William Edward Deeds ’41

B.A., Denison University
Ph.D., The Ohio State University

Physics Professor (retired)
Knoxville, Tenn.

Citation awarded June, 2001

Ed Deeds is retired from a distinguished forty-four-year career as a physics professor. Despite retirement from teaching, he continues his work as an active scientist and scholar.

A member of one of Denison’s most prominent families, Ed grew up in Granville. He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Denison in 1941 with majors in Mathematics and Physics. After his undergraduate years, Ed earned the M.S. in Physics at the California Institute of Technology, where he also served as a Graduate Assistant and Teaching Fellow. During World War II, he served as a Junior Physicist with the National Defense Research Council.

Following the war, Ed served as Assistant Professor of Physics for two years at Denison, and earned the Ph.D. in Physics from the Ohio State University. In 1952 he accepted a position at the University of Tennessee, where he became full Professor of Physics by 1959. During his career at Tennessee, he directed 24 Ph.D. dissertations and 36 M.S. theses, in fields as diverse as cosmic rays, rocket ballistics, molecular spectroscopy, general relativity, electromagnetism, optics, and quantum mechanics.

For twenty-seven years, Ed served as a consultant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; he also consulted with other governmental agencies and corporations. He has to his credit seven patents and two IR100 Awards, a recognition given annually by Industrial Research Magazine for the 100 best research developments of the year. Perhaps he is best known for his work on eddy current theory, on which he has taught and published extensively. During the 1970s and 1980s, both the German and Japanese governments sent scientists to study with him in the areas of eddy currents and nondestructive testing. Currently, he is doing research for a project funded by NASA to measure Newton’s gravitational constant 100 times more accurately than it is now known.

Ed and his late wife Alice had four children, two of whom have become physicists, one an archaeologist, and one a journalist. In June of 2000, he was inducted into the Granville High School Ace Hall of Achievement. Ed lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he makes time to work on building a 39-foot sloop for long-distance cruising.